Kate Chopin’s Story of an Hour. (Post for comment and Discussion) Christelle.

Freedom from feminist constraint is a common theme in Kate Chopin’s work. She is in fact considered one of the first feminist writers that would, later on, emerge more prominently in the late 20th century. What might perhaps set her aside from other feminist writers is that for most of her adult life she conformed to the conventional role of housewife, it is not until her husband’s death that she begins her career in the literary arts. Although we can never speculate as to her feelings about her husband’s death, we can state that it has had an immense impact on her writing. Freedom from feminist constraint through the death of a patriarch is explored in “The Story of An Hour”. What we understand about Mrs. Mallard’s desire for freedom in the story is that she doesn’t feel like she is her own person and is only through the absence of the patriarch (her husband) that she feels she can come into her own being. When he again becomes present, she knows that she would again be an object. By examing the text, specifically her contemplation, we will then determine if she had achieved freedom in her own death.

We can induce that Mrs. Mallard was in at the least in a loving and steady marriage. Mr. Mallard did exhibit some form of care and sensitivity to his wife. This is exhibited in the following quotation,” she knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead.”. She does feel remorse for the loss of her spouse and that this is a bittersweet moment in her life, although the latter (sweeter) more so as she contemplates more on what this means for her. It is important to note that she holds no resentment for her husband because it demonstrates that the confines she finds herself were constructed outside of their relationship.

As I stated in the introduction Mrs. Mallard does not feel she can act out of her own will and consciousness. She must always be in mind of her role as a married woman. In other words, everything that she does reflects as well as affects her husband’s reputation. This is the predicament that many upper-class women found themselves at the time the story was written. And so her life is not her own. As written in the text “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature” With him gone and no one men to associate (or belong to), her actions are own to decide and to be judged for.

 

To conclude Mrs. Mallard does not find freedom in her death. She only thought about the possibilities that it may bring but she did not exercise that freedom.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Kate Chopin’s Story of an Hour. (Post for comment and Discussion) Christelle.

  1. olakunle ilori

    When talking about ideas like freedom it’s important to think about perspectives.The reason is that its almost impossible to find two people who are exactly alike down to the fibers in the soles.Especially with polarizing ideas such as freedom, there are usually two kinds of basic reactions when it comes to discussions about freedom even more so when it comes to discussions about struggles for freedom.The two are people who fight for their freedom desperately rashly or otherwise or the people who go about things coolly and calculating.However, there are varying degrees of both depending on the individual(s) in question.Since this calls into question which one the Patriarch’s wife was the real question we all should ask ourselves what did freedom actually mean to her? based on the story she actually lived a decent life and had a husband who did not treat her like a caged animal.If she did have less freedom than she thought she deserved another question would be whose fault was it really? were these shackles on her person purely psychological? If she felt like she couldn’t do solely because she felt like since she was someone’s wife should she really be doing it anyway? Finally, another thing that needs to be thought about is societies unhealthy obsession about how others view them.This is definitely something that would dampen someones personal freedom because if one thinks they will be judged off of their actions they will not do it.These are in my opinion things that should be thought about when discussing freedom.Also its safe to say that the wife could’ve been in either category of reactions to freedom which possibly may suggest that she may believe that she is now free.

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  2. Muhammad Qasim

    I agree that freedom from female constraint is the main theme in this story. Kate Chopin states, “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms.” Here, we can see that Mrs. Mallard cries dramatically rather than feeling numb, as she knows many other women would. Her violent reaction immediately shows that she is an emotional, demonstrative woman. She knows that she should grieve for her husband and fear for her own future, but instead she feels joy at her newfound independence. She feels that freedom is near and she can finally do whatever she wants to.

    I also agree with your point, “everything that she does reflects as well as affects her husband’s reputation” because she shows her emotional outbreak in front of everyone to show that she cares for her husband. However, when she is out of others’ sight, she starts to think about her own life and the opportunities that await her.

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  3. SHELLS.K

    Yes, it is true that Kate Chopin was an adamant advocate for feminism and women’s liberation. We see evidence of this throughout much of her short stories. Specifically, in the Story of An Hour not only is freedom a common motif but also the use of nature as a symbolism plays an eminent role in Mrs Mallards realization of her liberation An example of this is expressed via the quote
    ” She could see in the open square her house the top of trees that were all quiver with the new spring life” here we can infer that as mrs mallard looks through her window an sees the new spring manifesting it is a notion of new beginning or new life for her. Though with the surprise twist at ending of the Story of an Hour we know that this notion of mrs mallard is short lived due to her sudden death. In an alternate outlook on this stories ending, one could say that Mrs mallard perhaps did fine freedom in death, after all it was the oppression of her marriage that ailed her so.
    With the knowledge of her husband being alive death may have been the freedom she desires to “free her body and soul”.

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  4. Duane

    I agree with what’s being said. To add, when reading this story I could not help but think about the past and even the present now when women were and are forced to marry a man and become a ‘house wife’. They were and still are, in probably different cultures, only used for the pleasure of man and do what the man does not do because it is not considered a ‘man’s job’. So putting myself in Mrs. Mallard position, I would too feel for the death but would also yearn for the feeling and life that is not going to be for the pleasure of someone else, as was mentioned in the post, “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for himself.” But I see her death two ways, one, her really physically dying from the sudden scene of her husband still alive which overwhelms her joy with the feeling of death in purpose. Secondly, I see it as a metaphor that describes Mrs. Mallard state at that time, “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease–of the joy that kills”, this mean, instead of physical death, a death of meaning of life that her heart has to accept. What I mean by that is that she can’t express love through what she wants to do, be free, but seeing her husband brings back the burden of being a tool for him and not for herself that she knows she can not escape from so she just accepts her faith.

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    1. Yasmin

      When you speak of Mrs. Mallard never fully achieving freedom I disagree. The moment she was in her room realizing the reality of her husband being dead, that’s when she reached her freedom. Although it was for a brief moment, that brief moment was all she needed to feel the freedom she was restrained from since she was married. I found myself being excited with her. Most often that not priorities and obligations keep from self discovery and prevent individuals from knowing themselves. Here finally when she is temporarily relieved of her obligation as a wife, she now has the permission to be anyone she wants. Her new found drive to be and do whatever she wanted was the peace that walked with her to her own death. In a way her death was the best thing that could happen, it was her way of keeping her freedom from being burdened as a wife.

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  5. Jody R. Rosen

    Yasmin’s point that Mrs. Mallard has freedom from the middle of the story is important. It makes the ending not about achieving freedom but about maintaining freedom. Because she dies, she never returns to that un-free situation that is for her associated with being someone’s wife and not being in sole possession of herself.

    A few of you wrote about her feminist constraint or female constraint, and I’m not sure I understand.

    We can aim to use the idea of freedom that the story presents. Mrs. Mallard thinks about how her husband loved her, but that she was not her own person. After she reacted emotionally to losing him, she began to realize what this would mean for her. What do we make of the fact that she never actually lived that freedom, only felt it come to her and knew that it was her future?

    To be clear, outside research is not required for these posts and comments (perhaps in the next round in a couple of weeks), but any time you’re bringing in ideas that you learned from somewhere else, you need to cite your sources. This is good practice not just to avoid plagiarism, but also so that anyone reading your writing who wants to know more can go read what you read. We can use links to provide a pathway out to our sources. It’s great when we expand our understanding and bring others along, too!

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